Modern Spiritualism as a movement, a way of life, and as a religious belief and denomination, was not founded by any single charismatic individual. It sprang to life in the turbulent times of the mid 19th century because three young girls and their mother not only heard noises in the night in their rented cottage but were prompted to fearlessly find out what and why this was happening and ultimately who was doing it.
This spirit of investigation, enquiry and the subsequent answers they received on that significant date of 31st March 1948 led to their neighbours’ interest and ensuing involvement in further exploration themselves in their own small groups. And inevitably, these groups of people connected to others, so, in a very short space of time, thousands of people, from all walks of life; the learned and unlearned, the devout and not so devout, were to become interested in what had been termed, ‘Spiritualism’.
Obviously the bedrock of this Spiritualism was its exponents, its mediums. This name covered the ability of some people to either provoke spontaneous phenomena in their presence that all present would be able to experience, such as the movement of objects, or to hear noises, or even more mysteriously, to be able to receive communication from beyond the grave as voices or visions in their mind. This latter manifestation a useful tool for genuine individual mediums who could then relay spiritual teachings – or bring messages from identifiable family and friends gone before. Those loved ones gone from this life to what was generally accepted as the next.
Those first modern mediums, as they had begun to be called, were called upon to demonstrate their abilities to an increasingly interested public. They attracted capacity audiences in secular venues and newly convened churches. Coupled with that was much attendant publicity; and much controversy.
These first mediums who started the whole Spiritual-ist show rolling were Kate, Margaretta, Margaret and Leah Fox, a Methodist family from rural Hydesville, in New York State. There have been hundreds and thousands of good ambassadors for Spiritualism over the last 167 years since then, both operating as mediums and also as speakers expounding the philosophy engendered by the new understandings.
Many too have been famous in the wider, non Spiritualist believer’s world from those Victorian times through to our own.
Since the Fox sisters public demonstrations and the many other famous mediums presenting their work in the USA, there have also been many in the UK. For instance the later 20th century saw Doris Stokes an accredited church medium in 1949 become a household name with her theatre appearances in the 1980’s, and her books (with writer Linda Dearsley) were on millions of book shelves in homes around the world. We lost her to this world on 8th May 1987.
In August 2015 Spiritualism lost another fine worker for its cause; Colin Fry, an ordained Spiritualist Minister. More people than was ever possible previously were touched by his efforts because he had a popular television series showcasing mediumship as well as a theatre audience. Less well-known was his other work for Spiritualism. He served the churches wherein he, like Doris Stokes, had started his own journey, and was active in groups interested in furthering the physical phenomena of Spiritualism such as the Noah’s Ark Society, and became its Education officer. Mediumship of course will educate, either indirectly by provoking further enquiry, piquing interest in matters Spiritualistic, or directly through relaying teachings from the Higher Realms. Reverend Colin Fry’s earthly life work record (which includes much relaying of those teachings through his group in spirit’s spokesperson, Magnus) is now added to that of his many distinguished predecessors.
Greater Littleport And District New Spiritualists’ Society and all of the New Spiritualists’ Society are saddened by his passing – but as Spiritualists we know there would have been a wonder-full reception for him on the other side.